You wake up. You prepare with your mourning routine. You practice reciting answers to all of the common interview questions you learned from the Workforce Solutions seminars you attended since your last job and, potentially, this job. You did research on how you can help solve companywide problems this employer is facing. You know how to sell yourself and add value to this team. There is just one weakness you have: you don’t know how to answer the question “what are your weaknesses?”
Many people struggle with this question because they do not want to turn an interviewer off with an answer that is either too negative or not negative enough. Contrary to popular belief, this question can positively impact the decision of the person who can change your life. The way you answer this question can show an employer how you adapt to change, face adversity, and work under pressure.
We’ve all heard that “trying the same thing and expecting different results” is the definition of insanity. The same might be said for ignorance. Those who are ignorant are simply lacking in knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular (i.e., I am ignorant of astrophysics). Often, people including myself are ignorant of any weaknesses they may have and as a result, may never improve. On the flip-side, changing things to get the results you want is a great way to learn. An employer wants to see someone who is willing to learn from their mistakes/failures/weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
In a previous blog post, I referenced the movie Rocky and I’m doing it again. From Rocky 1 to Creed (Rocky 7), the protagonist is faced with identifying his weaknesses and overcoming them. We all have characteristics we feel that we are born with and believe will not change because they are embedded in our deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Unless this has been formally diagnosed, you can work on this insecurity and explain during an interview how it has made you a stronger candidate.
In my experience, being uncomfortable is the only way I’ve grown. Completing a project under a strict deadline, beating a personal bench press record, or finding success when it’s not explained to you are all examples of working under pressure. Here is another cliché: “no pain, no gain.” You can never claim that doing something you’ve never done before as one of your strengths, but you can tell your interviewer that you like to challenge yourself and “spearhead” new projects. They might like what you have to say. Please don’t just say this but have examples of Challenge, Action, Result (CAR) stories to back it up. (Answering a question with a story that illustrates how you accepted a challenge, took action, and achieved successful results will make you stand out in the eyes of an employer.)
To finish this blog, let’s go back to the beginning. You’ve done all your preparation and you’re not going to tell your interviewer that your weaknesses are that “you work too hard, you’re a perfectionist, and you don’t know how to say no.” You are going to give examples of how you’ve shown adaptability, overcame challenges and stepped out of your comfort zone. Before you walk into your next interview, I’d like for you to ask yourself, “If I can’t think of any weaknesses, how will I improve?”
Diego Trevino is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston area. Before joining the regional team, he served as a greeter, employment counselor and staffing specialist. Earlier in his career he traveled to South Korea where he taught students English. He uses past teaching experiences and present workforce knowledge to conduct job skills seminars throughout the 13 county Gulf Coast Region.